Green Economy and Circular Economy
The impossibility of a fundamental transformation of the economic system in times of economic downturn: The example of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Green Economy Initiative.
Authors: Katharina Biely
Abstract: No universal definition of the green economy concept exists and thus different interpretations of this concept prevail. One communality of the various interpretations is that in most cases green economy is understood as means to achieve sustainability and that it involves a shift to greener sectors and means of production. Apart from this green economy is interpreted in quite different ways, which are related to the two different interpretations of sustainability as well as to two different economic schools of thought; environmental and ecological economics. This article analyzes the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative. It is examined what understanding of green economy UNEP is using and how this changed over time. Moreover, it will be shown that according to this analysis a fundamental transformation from orthodox economy to ecological economics seems to be impossible in times of economic downturn.
Green Economy Agendas: NGOs’ divergent alliances around natural capital
Authors: Les Levidow
Abstract: The ‘green economy’ links resource-protection, social equity and social inclusion. This agenda has generated new alliances and new controversy. NGOs have formed three different alliances, each linking different accounts of resource degradation, social inequity, natural capital and justice (see Table). Transnational public-private initiatives involving nature-conservation groups have elaborated the concept ‘natural capital’, framing natural resources as stocks and flows. Natural capital accounting has been promoted to make nature visible and so to conserve its stocks through better economic decision-making. By contrast, from the ‘justice principle’, the Green Economy Coalition proposes more equitable access to natural and financial capital. Instead demanding ‘environmental justice’, transnational advocacy networks and social movements jointly highlight collective responsibilities sustaining natural resources through commons – which are undermined through ‘natural capital’ initiatives. Thus divergent NGO alliances, variously elaborating or criticising ‘natural capital’, provide a window into the politics of how green economy agendas potentially reshape society.
Analysing the mitigation actions in the French’s construction sector related to the circular economy approach: a Waste Input-Output analysis
Authors: Mariana Bittencourt, Jean-Pierre Doussoulin
Abstract: The building sector has long recognized the decisive role in these main global environmental along the various phases of the building life cycle. This might be a key for the mitigation actions development in the European’s construction sector related to the huge material consumption and the CDW generation. In this sense, circular economy’s principles have strong potential to address these challenges related to construction sector in all European Union countries and specially in France. In this point, the major method of input-output analysis covers waste input-output model (WIO). As the building construction process chain is complex and has lot of related activities and in a preliminary moment it will be developed a conceptual model, this approach provides a positive alternative for the development of healthy and environmentally benefits in the traditional construction process.
Polyethylene recycling: waste policy scenario analysis for the EU-27
Authors: Valeria Andreoni, Hans Saveyn
Abstract: This paper quantifies the main impacts that the adoption of the best recycling practices together with the implementation of the amended Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive could have on the 27 Member States of the EU. The main consequences in terms of employment, waste management costs, emissions and energy use have been quantified for two scenarios of polyethylene (PE) waste production and recycling. The main results show that socio-economic and environmental benefits can be generated across the EU by the implementation of the best practice scenario. However, the net energy requirements are expected to increase as a consequence of the reduction in the energy produced from waste. The main analysis provided in this paper, together with the data and the model presented, can be useful to identify the possible costs and benefits that the implementation of PE waste policies and Directives could generate for the EU.
Product Longevity: a state of art review through the three pillars of sustainability
Authors: Tim Cooper, Naomi Braithwaite, Mariale Moreno, Giuseppe Salvia
Abstract: The significance of product lifetimes to sustainable development is increasingly recognised due to evidence that short-lived products imply an unsustainable throughput of materials in industrial economies, concern at the waste generated, and frustration among consumers when products prove unduly or unexpectedly short-lived. Historical and technical studies represent valuable contributions to recent literature but the broader picture remains less clear. The paper thus locates knowledge about product longevity within prevailing discourse on sustainable development, framing its analysis around the three pillars of environmental, economic and social sustainability. A comprehensive and systematic literature review revealed around 275 relevant publications. A matrix was then developed to represent the state of knowledge in relation to potential areas of enquiry. Finally an overview of disciplinary knowledge revealed further research needed to guide policy and practice toward product lifetimes.
Degrowth and SSE: Conceptual issues
Open-localism: degrowth as a way to challenge social closure
Authors: Francois Schneider
Abstract: The so-called “”open-society”, related to globalization is seen as progressive. In practice it has only been “open” for wealthy ones and products from multinationals. Growth and globalisation, in this finite world, leads to increasing inequality and therefore – frustration, closures, rise of extreme rights, and resource conflicts. Criticizing globalisation, or promoting degrowth, on the other hand, leads to accusations of being reactionary. Localism, if it is about being in relation with our environment, does not need to be closed. Within degrowth we talk about the importance of supporting, practicing and theorizing the so-called “open-localism”, or “”cosmopolitan localism””. Open-localism does not create frontiers, and cherishes diversity locally. It implies reducing the distance between consumer and producers (or be “”consumers-producers””), being sensitive to what we can see and feel, while being cosmopolitan. Rather than building an identity it implies acting in coherence, which is certainly not obtained by consumer products, or exclusion.”
Conviviality in Energy: Designing a Renewable Energy System in a Degrowth Society
Authors: Bruno Schyska, Lüder von Bremen
Abstract: To reach the climate protection goals of the EU, renewable energies must play a major role. Next to the transition from conventional energy sources to renewables, politics puts further emphasize on increasing energy efficiency. The ‘Energiewende’ shall be realised in-line with the overarching goal of economic growth. Since rebound effects partly counteract the ‘gain’ from increased energy efficiency, the aspect of energy sufficiency needs to be taken into account.
In this work, we consider, that convivial technologies might help to provoke an attitude shift towards sufficiency and the fact, that a decentralisation of the energy supply system partly compensates for increased energy fluctuations and storage needs. We investigate the relationship between decentralisation and energy production by considering different scenarios, which map the system’s degree of decentralisation and conviviality. By doing so, this work will contribute to the debate about the role of energy cooperatives in a redesigned energy supply system.”
Concept for an alternative, more resource-saving economy
Authors: Thomas Frisius
Abstract: The current capitalistic economic system tends to crises, social inequity and wasting of natural resources. An alternative economic system is proposed with the potential to overcome these difficulties. In this system international trade is minimized to reduce unnecessary wasting and pollution by transports. However, the inhomogeneous distribution of natural resources requires a global regulation of its fair allocation to all countries. Taxes on assets, resource usage and pollution are raised to regulate the national economy. The role that banks and private investors play is transferred to the national state to overcome the growth imperative of capitalism. Furthermore, the government controls money supply, redistribution and wages. The latter is implemented in such a way that working time adapts to the demand of labor and enables full employment. A mathematical model shows that wealth and exploitation of natural resources can be regulated in a stable economy to cope with sustainable development.”
Attitudes towards technology in sustainability studies: a framework applied to ecological economists
Authors: Christian Kerschner, Melf-Hinrich Ehlers
Abstract: Attitudes towards technology of those engaged in sustainability studies are far from homogeneous. They cover a wide spectrum ranging from those who consider innovation and technology-based efficiency improvements as the key to addressing sustainability problems, to those for whom they are their very source: increasing absolute resource consumption through rebound effects and accelerating the disruption of natural ecosystem cycles. In between these two positions there are at first sight confusing variations and combinations of attitudes. Our ATT framework offers a heuristic device for the exploration, refinement, conceptualisation and interpretation of attitudes towards technology. Moreover we use a qualitative content analysis of lecture material of ecological economics instructors in order to locate manifestations of attitudes towards technology according to our framework. Results suggest a great diversity in implicit and explicit expressions of such attitudes in teaching practice which underline the importance of an open and transparent debate.”
The crisis and transition scenarios
Beyond Partial Explanations: Oil, Capital, and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008
Authors: Giorgos Kallis, Jalel Sager
Abstract: In this review we parse several leading economic explanations of the oil price spike in the years leading up to the 2008 crises, dividing them into two basic groups: explanations that begin with the global financial system and its impact on oil prices, and those that take physical oil supplies as their point of departure. We do not find the evidence for oil as a primary causal factor in the global economic crisis unequivocal. The two categories of explanation we review, monetary and supply, have complementary aspects that suggest they may be pieces of a larger picture. Whether one focuses on global imbalances, “easy money,” or pegged currency blocs—or on increasing global oil demand—an integrative answer that slots these explanations into a coherent whole seems within reach. In conclusion, we argue for a view of the economy that handles complexity and systemic causation in a more nuanced way.
Impact of economic recession on carbon emissions: A cross-national empirical analysis
Authors: Qinglong Shao, Giorgos Kallis
Abstract: Previous researches on economic recession mainly focus on economics and finances, fewer studies discuss the impact of economic recession on carbon emissions. In this study, we employ panel regression and other advanced methods, to comprehensively investigate the impact of economic recession on carbon emissions among 157 economies all around the world, during the years 1960-2013. Findings show that: the first, generally speaking, de-carbonization begins one year before the recession, and keeps de-carbonized until three years after the recession. However, most of the recessions are only relatively de-carbonized, absolute de-carbonization are rarely seen; the second, economic recession is the most essential determinates to de-carbonization; lastly, the correlations for developing economies are significant than developed counterparts, and the reduced income caused by recession is a major factor to de-carbonization. We contribute to a further understanding of the impact of economic recession on carbon emissions under various quantitative approaches.
Financialisation and sustainability: an evolutionary perspective
Authors: Alessandro Vercelli
Abstract: This paper analyses the nexus between financialisation and sustainability from an evolutionary viewpoint. The historical evidence suggests that the process of financialisation may be seen as a long-run tendency characterizing the evolution of market relations. This trend, however, has been often restrained by constraints of religious, ethical and political nature. This conflict produced an alternation of periods characterized by financial repression, as in the Bretton Woods era, and periods characterized by the systematic relaxation of financial restraints leading to an acceleration of financialisation, as in the neoliberal era started in the 1980s. The compatibility between financialisation, that seeks the relaxation of constraints on economic decisions, and sustainability requisites setting crucial economic, social, and environmental constraints, is in principle problematic. The paper shows that the interaction between economic, social and environmental unsustainability within the existing financialisation trajectory caused the Great recession. The time has come to establish a sustainable development trajectory.
Transition to a low-carbon economy
Authors: Giovanni Bernardo, Simone D’Alessandro
Abstract: This paper analyses different policies that may promote the transition towards a low-carbon economy. We present a dynamic simulation model where three different strategies are identified: improvements in energy efficiency, the development of the renewable energy sector, and carbon capture and storage. Our aim is to evaluate the dynamics that the implementation of these strategies may produce in the economy, looking at different performance indicators, such as the GDP growth rate, unemployment, labour share, carbon emissions, and renewable energy production. Scenario analysis shows that a number of tradeoffs between social, economic and environmental indicators emerge. Such tradeoffs undermine an ‘objective’ definition of sustainability.
Concrete utopias, heterotopias, nowtopias and the degrowth transformation
The relevance of direct democracy, non-reformist reform, and nowtopias for purposive degrowth transformations
Authors: Panos Petridis, Christos Zografos
Abstract: The aim of this contribution is to clarify and make more explicit the links between nowtopias, direct democracy and non-reformist reform and then consider their relevance for the study of degrowth transitions. We will do so, by first presenting specific cases (examples) of non-reformist reform, explaining how they operate and how they produce radical social transformations. A particular focus of those examples will be on cases in which non-reformist reforms have facilitated the institutionalisation of nowtopias. Secondly, we will focus on direct democracy initiatives developed “at the margin”. We will use examples of cases of popular self-rule initiatives that have surfaced as nowtopias, in order to consider the ways and conditions under which they have emerged as well as how and why they have failed or succeeded. Finally, we will use all this information to reflect on the relevance of direct democracy, non-reformist reform, and nowtopias for purposive degrowth transformations.
Heterotopias and Utopias in Movement
Authors: Aggelos Varvarousis
Abstract: Utopia has been imbued with pejorative connotations that led to the partial abandonment of the concept either as romantic and not-applicable or as dangerous and totalitarian. Recently, many scholars argue that utopianism should be reconsidered for its transformative and emancipatory potential. Heterotopias, a concept introduced by Foucault refers to those existing spaces which are in juxtaposition with the spaces of normality and are also essential for any society because they define the norms depending on the degree of divergence from this. Many have argued in favor of such “alternative” spaces which may contain the “seed” for a more mainstream social transformation by naming them heterotopias, nowtopias or concrete utopias. Here I argue that only the highlighting of such spaces is not enough. A new utopia should be grounded, indeed, in existing social practices but it should also stimulate the imagination play for alternatives. Degrowth maybe can constitute the missing link.
Empowering Degrowth - Addressing Power Issues for the Transformation Towards a Degrowth Society
Authors: Lorenz Stör
Abstract: Every social development includes conflicts, struggles and the giving up of privileges, which essentially result in questions of power. However, the debate on the degrowth/power nexus is essentially underdeveloped in the literature on degrowth, which not only restricts the scope of discussion but has also strategic implications for the establishment of a social movement. This paper discusses existing frameworks of power with regard to their relevance for degrowth and hereby intends to provide a starting point for the debate on conceptualizing power for degrowth. Based on Steven Lukes’ three-dimensional approach to power, John Gaventa’s framework of the power cube is furthermore used for a first attempt of conceptualizing power for degrowth. A workshop with a focus group will not only test the theory, but also support activists and provide empirical insights. The paper therefore interconnects research and activism and hereby touches upon a core element of degrowth and socio-ecological transformation.
Concrete Utopia as education of desire: the role of social experiments in the transformation of the Social Imaginary
Authors: Barbara Muraca
Abstract: Aim of the paper is to explore how far social experiments gravitating around the idea of degrowth can contribute to a radical (social ecological) transformation of society. After a brief introduction about societal transformation, I will focus on the transformation of the Social Imaginary and the role of concrete utopias in enhancing it. By following Levitas I consider the ‘education of desire’ as a core function of concrete utopias. Social experiments considered in terms of concrete utopias can become subversive and emancipatory spaces for experimenting, experiencing, and negotiating alternative ways of understanding desires and needs.”
Degrowth and SSE: Empirical analysis
Conditions for a post-growth economy from Post-Keynesian perspectives
Authors: Steffen Lange
Abstract: The paper investigates under what conditions an economy generates constant production levels. Prominent Post-Keynesian macroeconomic theories are used to examine this question theoretically. The mechanisms responsible for growth vary between different types of Post-Keynesian theories. This variety is used in order to develop an understanding of the diversity of conditions that are necessary for a post-growth economy to be stable. Central to the analysis are: the size and composition of government expenditures; technological progress and the marginal productivity of capital; taxation policies; the distribution of income and the composition of consumption; and the dominant type of business ownership in the economy.
Investigating Pathways To Post-growth Economies Through Prospective Macroeconomic Modeling: Visions and Scenarios for France
Authors: François Briens, Nadia Maïzi
Abstract: An important theorization effort has been made in recent years in the field of degrowth and post-growth economics. Yet current literature still falls a bit short of providing detailed investigations of possible macro-socioeconomic and biophysical outcomes that may result from taking in such paths. Using a dynamic input-output simulation model of the French monetary economy, we explore different scenarios of transition towards post-growth societies. These scenarios seek to reflect contrasted “visions of sustainable societies and lifestyles”, inferred from a survey conducted amongst different social groups – including in particular actors within the Degrowth movement. They involve structural and behavioral changes in consumption patterns, and integrate proposals and strategies issued from the Degrowth movement. We investigate the possible outcomes of these scenarios in terms of employment, poverty, public debt, energy consumption, waste and GHG emissions and discuss the potential strengths and weaknesses of the different visions they reflect.
Tracking physical stocks, material/energy flows and the scale of economies: A case study of Canada and Spain (1995-2009) - methodology and preliminary results
Authors: Andrew L Fanning, Dan O’Neill
Abstract: This paper will report results of a 3-year research project (2013-2016) that aims to construct a time series of biophysical and social accounts at national and sub-national levels for Canada and Spain. The focus here will be on biophysical accounts that aim to inform the following central issue in ecological economics: how do we measure national (or sub-national) economies’ movement towards, or away from, a steady state economy (SSE)? The main contribution of this research will be to compile national accounts for Canada and Spain and two sub-national regions that will be suitable for cross-country comparison of physical stocks, flows and scale of economic activities over a 15-year time period (1995-2009). Significant limitations of the methodologies utilized exist and will be discussed critically. Despite limitations, this information is important because it provides an indication of whether physical degrowth is needed for these economies and if so, most importantly, how much?
Work and employment beyond growth
Working time and environmental pressures revisited: A dynamic Panel Data Approach
Authors: Qinglong Shao, Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos, Giorgos Kallis
Abstract: There is a growing interest on the correlation between working time and environmental pressures, but prior empirical studies mostly focused on static methodologies, regarding country samples and research periods as a whole in the analysis. This article employs various static and dynamic panel regression approaches to examine the relationship among 55 countries worldwide over the period 1980-2010, and proved the existence of significant strong relations in all models. Further, we find the effects of work hours on carbon emission in developed economies are more significant than developing counterparts in general. Significant correlations at 1% level existed before 2000 are vanished in the last ten year research periods (2001-2010), by using interaction terms. We contribute to a further understanding of the environmental effects of working time reduction policy by comparing the differences among various periods and country groups under sys-GMM dynamic framework.
Reduction of Work Time in Austria: A Mixed-Methods Study Relating a New Work Time Policy to Employee Preferences
Authors: Stefanie Gerold, Matthias Nocker
Abstract: This mixed-methods study examines factors determining employees’ desire to reduce worktime. The results of a binary logit regression model, based on data from the Austrian Microcencus 2012, suggest that employees who prefer shorter weekly working hours are older, higher educated and work longer hours in white-collar positions, compared to those who do not wish to change their hours. Gender differences are greatest in terms of household and family characteristics, supporting the ‘male breadwinner & part-time’ model. Qualitative interviews have been conducted among employees who had the possibility to choose between a pay increase and equivalent leisure time via a new worktime policy (“Freizeitoption”) implemented in 2013. The results suggest that employees with higher education tend to reduce worktime. The fact that money is valued from a long-term, security perspective, as well as the tendency of assessing work performances by output indicators can be regarded as major obstacles for worktime reductions.
Mutations of Freight Transport and Logistics in Green Economy
Authors: Félicie Drouilleau
Abstract: Based on about twenty qualitative interviews with actors of logistics and freight transport, whether they work in Social Economy or in the industry’s big businesses, this research in sociology and anthropology seeks to address the specific ways the Social Economy networks deal with the mutations of their professional practices and knowledge. In contrast with the so called “sustainable management” actually coercive and hierarchical, Social Economy is experimenting with a highly horizontal, cooperative construction of the new work organisation along with it’s transmission in very local networks. But employment quality in sustainable logistics and freight transport businesses carried out by the Social Economy is lowered by the lack of commitment of public actors, thus relying mostly on an activist, volunteer work-force. This communication is based on a multi-annual research project on “green employment” in France (Céreq, 2013-2016).
The centrality of decent work in a healthy, post-growth society
Authors: Katherine Trebeck
Abstract: Work that is of high quality and fairly distributed can play a significant part in concretising the shifts required to take the economy beyond GDP growth. The way we manage, value, structure, and reward work impacts individuals and wider society and economy. This paper seeks to apply evidence of the social determinants of health to labour market outcomes. It outlines how the labour market in the UK is failing to deliver positive outcomes for enough people and then sets out evidence of the link between the nature of work and health. It shows how good work, shared and supported, might become a mechanism to create healthy citizens and communities. Discussion considers aspects of what any definition of decent work might encompass before briefly reflecting on some policy changes required to create more decent work and share it more widely in a post-growth era.